If your company uses Dynamics CRM it is likely that at some point you will want to (or be required to) integrate this with your web presence for effective communication with customers, partners or other stakeholders online. The common scenarios for a CRM portal include customer portals, partner portals, citizen portals…and the list goes on.
When that time comes, if it hasn’t already, you will need to decide what technology you will use to integrate your online presence with your CRM data. You could choose to build a custom portal from scratch or use some third-party CMS tool. Neither of these options warrant further discussion in this particular blog posting as the costs associated make these options non-starters in almost every scenario.
Here are six reasons why using Adxstudio Portals is a better solution for Dynamics CRM-integrated websites than SharePoint:
CRM-Integrated Authentication – Adxstudio Portals ships with the authentication pre-built. If you choose SharePoint you will be required to build this from scratch. The out of the box security providers for Adxstudio Portals also provides support for both forms-based and federated authentication. In forms-based authentication portal administrators can simply manage the username, password, password hints, etc. all simply within the CRM user interface, while the data is securely stored in the CRM database. Federated authentication allows users to login to the portal using a third-party provider, allowing users to login to your web portal using their Facebook, LinkedIn, or even ADFS credentials. Again, this would have to be completely built from scratch using SharePoint.
CRM Entity Integration With No Code – Let’s use a simple case management scenario to illustrate this point…a user comes to your website to enter a case of some sort (could be a service complaint, product query, a financial claim…anything), and enters their information into a form in your website. With Adxstudio Portals, all of the fields entered into that form are automatically entered into the CRM database with no code required. Should you implement this same scenario using SharePoint, you would be required to have a developer write code to integrate that form data. If after some time you decide to change the fields on that form…guess what? You get to have that developer involved again.
Website Presentation Configurable in CRM – One of the great features of Dynamics CRM 2013 is the ability to simply and easily configure forms and lists for users. Adxstudio extends that to your CRM-integrated website, allowing you the ability to configure forms and lists on your website exactly the same way by configuring it right inside CRM. Once again, in SharePoint … custom code, and you get to call that developer again.
Pre-Built CRM and Website Functionality – Adxstudio Portals ships with many common CRM and web portal integration scenarios out of the box, including event management, case management, surveys, eCommerce and so much more. Once again if you choose SharePoint, you’re choosing to build all of that from scratch, and not necessarily just on the web portal, but in Dynamics CRM as well.
Responsive Web Design Out of the Box – If you’re involved in planning for anything to do with your company’s website and you’re not familiar with responsive web design…you should be. Responsive web design allows a website to be optimized for viewing regardless of the device you’re viewing the website on – computer, tablet or mobile device. As an example of this in practice, resize the window you’re viewing this in right now to the size of a mobile device – note that there is no need to scroll horizontally and that the menu at the top of this page is now in a touch-friendly control. Adxstudio Portals ships with the Bootstrap framework from Twitter for responsive websites out of the box. SharePoint does not include this and you will need to incorporate the development or inclusion of a responsive framework at your cost…and time.
Simple Licensing Structure – Not too much to say about this one. There are three truths in this world, death, taxes, and the fact that your Microsoft licensing will be complex. Ours is really simple and you can find it by clicking here. The good news for those of you using Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 is that you are no longer required to purchase an External Connector License to implement Adxstudio Portals.
In conclusion, there is significant value in the out of the box capabilities that our CRM portals bring that can’t be found using SharePoint when integrating to Dynamics CRM. Ultimately this means you will deliver a website integrated to your Dynamics CRM application in a more timely and cost-effective way. If you are a customer and are working with a partner that is pushing a SharePoint based CRM-integrated portal to you, be aware that this partner may be more concerned about gaining license and service revenue from you than they are in positioning the right solution for you.